This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 1, 2003 10:46 PM. The previous post in this blog was She moves me. The next post in this blog is Passing lane. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003

You know you're a middle-aged white guy if...

One of the big thrills in your life is having the electrical service to your house replaced.

I've been wanting to do this ever since we first moved in here nearly five years ago. The old circuit breaker box was a good 40 years old, and as far as my rudimentary understanding of such things goes, the meter base outside was not properly matched to the breaker box. As a power company linesman confirmed on a recent visit, it had trouble written all over it.

There were a couple of perennial obstacles to getting the job done. The first, of course, was bucks. These changeovers don't come cheap -- there's a comma in the number. Then there is the matter of the location of the meter. Nowadays, the power company wants the meter within 10 feet or so from the front of the house, to make life easier for the meter readers. In our case, that would have meant moving the meter a substantial distance, and a whole bunch of tricky rewiring would have been necessary in the basement.

Over the past month, things fell into place quite unexpectedly. First, interest rates had dropped substantially, and we realized we could reap substantial savings by refinancing the place yet again. (We had just done this last fall.) Applying for the new loan with our existing lender over the internet took all of about half an hour. We closed today, and the savings will more than pay for the electrical work.

The other favorable development came when I was able to convince the power company folks that the existing meter location is in fact the only good place for the service on our 90-plus-year-old house. Moving it closer to the curb would create some safety problems that the current location doesn't present. Voila, no meter move.

The estimate from our favorite electricians came in lower than we anticipated, and they had a guy ready to come out less than 48 hours after the estimator did. Wham, bam, it was done.

It's not officially over yet -- there needs to be an inspection or two, and the final connections up under the eaves outside have to be made by the power company guys. But assuming these steps take place according to plan, we've got our new service. We get room to expand (which we will soon need), and the worries about that meter base melting down are a thing of the past.

We just spent a good couple of hours filling in the chart on the circuit breaker panel. Many of the circuits weren't labeled or otherwise easily identified, and so we went through a process of trial and error figuring out which breakers go to which lights, outlets, and appliances. I manned the switches while my wife went room to room seeing what went on and off when I flipped them. The many communication breakdowns were comical. For instance, every once in a while I'd turn off the phones we were talking over, and that left us shouting at the tops of our lungs up and down the laundry chute. But getting in touch with every electrical outlet in the house felt pretty good.

To a geezer like me, that is.

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